L. C. Wright crew 27.4.43 †

26/04/1943 Attack Against Targets at Duisburg
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1000 lb. and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. One aircraft however failed to take-off as the pilot was sick. And two aircraft returned early. The remaining five aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, which was a mass of flames. Large concentrated fires being seen which were spreading. Very heavy A.A.Fire was experienced in the target area, which was mainly predicted and co-operation with cones of searchlights. Some enemy aircraft were seen and one combat took place. The weather was very good in the target area, but visibility was impaired by haze caused by the large fires. Navigation was very good. Stirling Mk.III BF517, captained by F/O P.J. Buck, was attacked by an unseen fighter when about 30 miles North of the target. The rudder and tail of the aircraft was damaged, and the rear gunner was mortally wounded. The fighter was evaded and by jettisoning all moveable objects height was maintained and the aircraft returned to base where a perfect crash landing was made. Besides the rear gunner who lost his like, minor injuries were also received by two other members of the crew.

Stirling Mk.I W7513 AA-G

Sgt. Keith Haliburton – Pilot
Sgt. Leslie Charles Wright – 2nd Pilot
Sgt. Patrick Torre Hunter – Navigator
Sgt. Leslie Thomas Scarfe – Air Bomber
Sgt. D.J. Davis – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Devinder Singh Sidhu – Flight Engineer
Sgt. Charles Henry George Boxall – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Alexander Clunie Howell – Rear Gunner

Take Off 00:57 – Landed 05:10
Flight Time 04:13

27/04/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Five aircraft were detailed to cary out the above operations, with mines of 1500 lb. One of these returned early owing to engine trouble and the remainder successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. No enemy aircraft, A.A. fire or searchlights were encountered. There was heavy cloud and occasional rain storms in the mining area although visibility was good, except for haze. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.I N3683 AA-?

Sgt. Leslie Charles Wright, RAFVR 1294453 – Pilot.
Sgt. Geoffrey Phillips Sowerby, RAFVR NZ417243 – Navigator.
P/O John Paul Ingham, RAFVR 132331 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Terence James Hegarty, RAFVR 1030026 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Blades, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick Edward William Crowther, RAFVR 1339159 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Albert John Knox, RNZAF NZ416006 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:56 – Landed 05:48
Flight Time 04:52

04/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Dortmund
Ten aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets, with bombs of 2000lb 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. One aircraft, however, failed to take-off owing to engine trouble. The remaining aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, with the exception of two which returned early owing to engine trouble. Large fires and explosions were seen, which appeared to come from the center of the target area. Some A.A.Fire and searchlights were encountered, but they were ineffective. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. No cloud was prevalent in the target area, and visibility was good, ground detail was obscured by the smoke from the fires. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.I BF412 AA-Y

Sgt. Leslie Charles Wright, RAFVR 1294453 – Pilot.
Sgt. Geoffrey Phillips Sowerby, RAFVR NZ417243 – Navigator.
P/O John Paul Ingham, RAFVR 132331 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Terence James Hegarty, RAFVR 1030026 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Blades, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick Edward William Crowther, RAFVR 1339159 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Albert John Knox, RNZAF NZ416006 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:54 – Landed 04:02
Flight Time 05:08

09/05/1943 – Mining in the Ile De Re Area
Six aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation, with Mines of 1500lb. All of the Mines were dropped in the allotted area and the parachutes were seen to open. One aircraft met heavy A.A.Fire, but it was ineffective , a few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. The weather was good in the mining area and visibility was also good. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BK776 AA-R

Sgt. Leslie Charles Wright, RAFVR 1294453 – Pilot.
Sgt. Geoffrey Phillips Sowerby, RAFVR NZ417243 – Navigator.
P/O John Paul Ingham, RAFVR 132331 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Terence James Hegarty, RAFVR 1030026 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Blades, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick Edward William Crowther, RAFVR 1339159 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Albert John Knox, RNZAF NZ416006 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:58 – Landed 03:34
Flight Time 05:36

13/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Bochum
Twelve aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2000lb, 1000lb, and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. Three aircraft, however, were forced to return early owing to engine trouble. The remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, and very large concentrated fires were seen, together with explosions. This is considered to have been a very successful raid. Heavy predicted A.A.Fire co-operation with searchlights was encountered. Several enemy aircraft were seen and some short combats took place. Stirling Mk.I. BK619, captained by Sgt. J.L. Mitchell was attacked by an ME110 and opened fire at 400 yards slightly below our aircraft. The mod-upper gunner fired a medium burst and the enemy aircraft was seen to burst into flames and passed beneath the Stirling. The rear gunner fired a further long burst at 300 yards and the enemy aircraft was seen to turn on its back and dive, hit the ground and explode. The weather was very clear in the target area, but visibility was impaired by slight ground haze. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.I BF443 AA-V “Waikato”

S/L Leslie Charles Wright, RAFVR 1294453 – Pilot.
Sgt. Geoffrey Phillips Sowerby, RAFVR NZ417243 – Navigator.
P/O John Paul Ingham, RAFVR 132331 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Terence James Hegarty, RAFVR 1030026 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Blades, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick Edward William Crowther, RAFVR 1339159 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Albert John Knox, RNZAF NZ416006 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:24 – Landed 05:26
Flight Time 05:02

17/5/1943 – Training Flight
“At 01.00 hours on the 17th May 1943, Sergeant L.C.Wright was carrying out a cross country fight in Stirling Mk.1 BF398, when the starboard outer and port outer engines failed. The aircraft lost height and the Captain ordered the crew to bale out, this included a passenger AC1 BAILEY, R.G. Of the crew who baled out, all landed safely with the exception of Sergeant A.J.Francis, who was reported missing and found four days later. The Captain remained at the controls, as the aircraft was in the vicinity of the Town of STOKE-UPON-TRENT and it appears that rather than crash land over the town, he attempted to land in the nearest field, the aircraft crashed however, and he was killed. The MAYOR of STOKE-UPON-TRENT has been in communication with the Squadron, and expressed his admiration, shared also by the townspeople, for the gallantry displayed by Sergeant L.C. WRIGHT.”

Sgt. Leslie Charles Wright, RAFVR 1294453 – Pilot.
Killed age 22.
Son of Joseph and Alice Helen Wright, of Charlton.
Buried Charlton (St.John the Baptist) Churchyard, Wiltshire, England..
‘Your task is o’er
Your battle won
So rest in peace
My beloved son’

Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 19.
Son of Edwin John and Clara Winifred Francis, of Shrewsbury.
Buried Shrewsbury General Cemetery, Shropshire, England..
Grave location:  Extn. Plot 10. Grave 297.
‘Greater love
Hath no man than this,
That a man lay down
His life for his friends’

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